By Cathy Branciaroli, Food Correspondent, The Times
Soup is one of my favorite foods and I love to make these kind of recipes all year long, because they are so easy to make and so appetizing/nutritious for the family. Spring soups are among my favorites, because they show off the flavors of favorite produce.
In my mind, the best recipes for spring soups bridge the gap between the seasons. I love the idea of a monstrous big beef and barley soup with vegetables but also the vegetable-based and some say healthier vegetable purees. In either case, they offer comforting, warming food for the family while we are awaiting the appearance of spring peas, asparagus and other delicacies to concoct into delightful delicacies. They also make for quick suppers. Considering that spring has officially sprung earlier this month, it’s time to think about eating lighter, and as I said in an earlier column, looking forward to getting into those bathing trunks or suits this summer.
So as you probably can tell, no matter whether warm and creamy, hot, chunky and packed with vegetables or cool and mouthwatering, these soups keep us cozy while we endure the swinging temperatures from warm to cold and back again, looking forward to the promise of warmer weather.
The soup I’d recommend for readers today can be served either hot or cool – a bonus in food preparation. Cream of Roasted Carrot Soup is nutritious and a wonderful comfort food. Roasting the carrots and garlic intensifies their flavors and simplifies the cooking process later on. This soup’s vibrant color brightens up an almost spring evening, and laced with chopped chives it offers that juxtaposition of creaminess and crunch.
Cream of Roasted Carrot Soup
1 ½ cup carrots peeled and sliced lengthwise
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbs olive oil
3 roasted garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken broth (or more for a smooth consistency)
¼ cup each heavy cream and half & half
½ tsp cumin
splash of hot pepper oil
½ to 1 tsp salt, ground black pepper
Optional: 1 tbs grated fresh ginger
Preheat oven to 400 or 450 degrees. Toss the carrots, onion & salt. Place a head of garlic in aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil, closing up the top. Place on parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet, spreading in an even layer. Roast till vegetables are browned and softened, about 25-30 minutes.
Transfer roasted vegetables and several of the garlic cloves to a large saucepan. Add ¼ cup broth and cook over medium heat until carrots soften further, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, cumin, hot pepper oil & bay leaf, cooking until the wine has reduced by half. Add remainder of broth. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer until soup is flavorful, about 5 minutes. Puree the mixture in a blender until smooth and return to saucepan. Add cream/Half & Half and warm over low heat, about 3 minutes. Season to taste. If you are adding the optional ginger, add when including the wine and follow directions otherwise. Can be served hot or warm.
Cathy Branciaroli also writes about her adventures in the kitchen on her award-winning blog Delaware Girl Eats